Jackstraw Backcountry Campsite, lying on the south bank of Timber Creek below 11,704-foot Jackstraw Mountain, is a popular campsite near Timber Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The single site lies in pine woods about four miles up Timber Lake Trail. Allow three or four hours to hike to the site. The trail gains 1,750 feet from car to campsite. Timber Lake, another half-mile up the trail, is a lovely lake surrounded by alpine ridges. The lake offers good fishing and scenic views. Rockslide and Snowbird campsites are just up the valley from Jackstraw. Moose and elk are often seen in the valley. A pit toilet is by the main trail north of the campsite. Drink water from Timber Creek, but boil or treat it before use. The campsite is snow-free by early July.

Pro Tips

  • Start the approach hike at Timber Lake Trailhead about 10 miles north of the Kawuneeche Visitor Center on the right or east side of U.S. 34. Follow Timber Lake Trail for 4.0 miles to a wooden sign on the right. Follow a short path to the campsite on the south side of Timber Creek.
  • A backcountry permit is required for all overnight camping in Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry. Get permits at the Park Headquarters Backcountry Office next to Beaver Meadows Visitor Center west of Estes Park, at Kawuneeche Visitor Center north of Grand Lake, or at the park website.
  • When you get a Backcountry Use Permit, you agree to obey National Park regulations for backcountry camping. The permit must be with you at all times and a tent tag must be displayed on your pack while hiking and on your tent. You must follow your planned itinerary so campsites aren’t overused or crowded. You also receive a tag to place on the dashboard of your vehicle, allowing overnight parking at trailheads without being towed.
  • Practice a Leave No Trace ethic when camping at Jackstraw Campsite. Pitch tents in designated areas near a silver arrowhead. Secure food and garbage. Black bears are here so stash food in a bear-resistant canister, which is required May to October at all campsites below timberline. Keep food, trash, and scented items in the container and store it 200 feet from the campsite. Don’t camp below dead trees; wind storms blow branches off them.
  • Recommended season(s): July to September.

    —Stewart M. Green


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